Home to a population of around a thousand chao ley, tiny KO LIPE, 2km south of Ko Adang, is something of a frontier maverick, attracting ever more travellers with one dazzling beach, fifty or so private bungalow resorts and a rough-and-ready atmosphere. It’s technically a part of Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, but the authorities seem to have given up on the island and don’t collect an admission fee from visitors. A small, flat triangle, Lipe is covered in coconut plantations and supports a school and a health centre in the village on the eastern side. By rights, such a settlement should never have been allowed to develop within the national park boundaries, but the chao ley on Lipe are well entrenched: Satun’s governor forced the community to move here from Phuket and Ko Lanta between the world wars, to reinforce the island’s Thai character and prevent the British rulers of Malaya from laying claim to it.
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Snorkelling and diving around Ko Lipe
The prime diving and snorkelling sites around Ko Lipe are around Ko Adang, Ko Rawi and Ko Dong, just to the north and west in Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, where encounters with reef and even whale sharks, dolphins and stingrays are not uncommon. Further afield to the south, advanced divers head for Eight Mile Rock, a pinnacle that rises to about 14m from the surface, with soft corals, mantas, leopard and whale sharks. A handful of dive shops operate on Lipe, and there are dozens of places offering snorkelling day-trips on chao ley longtail boats; snorkellers are liable to pay the park admission fee of B200, though some longtail captains will try to dodge the park rangers.